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Improving and maintaining the resilience of both human and ecological communities requires a clear understanding of the social, economic, cultural, and environmental connections between people and nature. These links between biological and cultural diversity – often the product of diverse knowledge and resource management systems – can strengthen the ability of communities to adapt and respond to environmental and social-cultural changes across local, national, and global scales. Place-based, culturally relevant indicators play an important role as communities manage and monitor resources and plan for the future. Further, collaboration between local and international indicator initiatives is necessary to support cross-scale planning and evidence-based sustainability initiatives.
The Action Group on Knowledge Systems and Indicators of Wellbeing is exploring the linkages between biological and cultural diversity. The Action Group is connecting a broad range of people involved with sustaining and managing nature and culture – including indigenous peoples and local community members, policymakers, researchers, and conservation professionals – to promote dialogue, exchange, and co-creation of knowledge. By creating opportunities for learning across geographies, disciplines, and scales, we seek to better understand how to improve efforts to design indicators that encompass both biological and human wellbeing.
The group met in-person at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on April 21-22, 2018 - over the middle weekend of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The meeting engaged nearly 100 participants in a cross-cutting exploration of knowledge and wellbeing themes in a forum that encouraged collective sharing and learning to build and support a community of practitioners. Meeting participants included Indigenous Peoples and local community (IPLC) members, policymakers, researchers, and conservation professionals representing diverse geographic areas including Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas.
Over the course of two days, the group covered a broad range of community, national, and global scale initiatives involving the multifaceted connections between people and place, nature and culture. Through a combination of interactive sessions and panel presentations, we learned about the diverse challenges and successes experienced in developing wellbeing indicators across regions and scales. Each case study shared during the Action Group meeting contributed important content to the group’s knowledge base, providing specific examples and experiences for practitioners to draw from to inform their respective work.
One of the main products of the Action Group is a directory compiling existing resources on strategies that link biological and cultural diversity. This public directory serves as a content hub for sharing tools and materials on Indigenous and community-based indicators and resource management, which could be useful to communities as well as many of the national institutions, researchers, and organizations that are approaching and working with communities.
The CBC organizers would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the funders and organizing partners who made the April, 2018 meeting possible: